December 28, 2019
Have you ever wondered why the Holy Family did not have it easier? After all, the parents were a couple trying to do what was right. Even more, they were carrying out what God had asked of them. And the child is the Son of God, Savior of humanity, King of kings….
What if they had lived in a royal palace and had everything their way?
Then most of us would not relate to them.
On the contrary, they dealt with uncertainties, worries, anxieties, dangers, and suffering. For sure, they also had moments of joy and excitement of family life, of having and raising a child. The parents cared for each other and did all they could to protect their child. These we can relate to.
Moreover, in the Incarnation, the Son of God lives in a human family. Now, in our families we find God and holiness in its moments of joy, excitement, and love, with its uncertainties, worries, anxieties, dangers, and sufferings.
Thus, by living in a human family, the Incarnate Son of God makes holy all human families.
Image source: "Let Mom Rest" (Viral image)
December 21, 2019
Jesus and Emmanuel
Matthew reports the two names of the child to be born by Mary.
With these names, his identity and mission are revealed. He is Jesus (meaning “God saves”) “because he will save his people from their sins.” And He is Emmanuel, “God is with us.”
Looking into ourselves and the world around us, we know that we cannot save ourselves.
But this Jesus is not the type of a trouble-shooter or superhero who only shows up when there are troubles. Matthew would later end his Gospel with the Risen Jesus’ last words to the disciples, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28:20).
As we are about to celebrate Christmas, may we grow in appreciation and love for Jesus who saves us and who is with us always.
And may we share this divine presence, not just presents, with others.
December 14, 2019
Are You the One?
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
John the Baptist asked that question, and he got an answer.
How about us?
We might say we believe that Jesus is the one Savior, but do we really? Or do we still look for safety in other people and things?
November 30, 2019
Your Father Knows
The Gospel passage used for this Sunday begins at verse 37 of Chapter 24 of Matthew.
In the verse immediately precedes it, Jesus says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
It is this same Father who Jesus earlier in Matthew taught us to pray to as “Our Father”  . Jesus continued in Chapter 6 pointing out that the Father takes care of even the birds of the sky and the grass of the field. Jesus assured us that “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
It is with this attitude that we must begin the Season of Advent. It is with this attitude that we must live our daily life as we wait the coming of the Son of Man.
November 16, 2019
Living the faith has its challenges. Being disciples of Jesus has its crosses.
By the time Luke wrote down this Gospel, the first generation of disciples have suffered persecution and martyrdom as Jesus had told them.
They must have remembered what he had said to them. They also experienced throughout their lives, in moments of peace and moments of suffering, his promise to remain with them.
May their faith and perseverance inspire us to remember and trust in Jesus’ promise.
November 9, 2019
God is God of the living
Every culture has multiple euphemisms for death. One religious example is to say that someone is “with God.”
This kind of euphemism has its place since death is never easy to cope with, and news of death is difficult to convey. It is also the reality that we do not know God fully in this life.
Yet, Jesus assures us, “God is not God of the dead, but of the living.”
I already belong to God in this life. So are my neighbors.
How does this reality that Jesus teaches us guide the way I live my earthly life? How does it shape the way I treat others?
November 2, 2019
Jesus tells Zaccheaus, “I must stay at your house.”
By using “must,” Jesus expresses a sense of obligation  , or rather, the reason of his coming among us – “to seek and to save what was lost.” It is the obligation of the Father’s plan and of Jesus’ love for sinners.
Some people find it hard to accept God’s plan of salvation. They “grumble” that Jesus makes himself a guest at the house of a sinner.
So great is Jesus’ love for us sinners that he makes it his obligation to be our guest.
 “In Luke, the verb dei (“must”) is used to convey divine necessity – that is, what Jesus must do in fulfillment of God’s plan” (Pablo Gadenz, The Gospel of Luke, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic, p. 75).
Image source: Zacchaeus by Niels Larsen Stevns, en.wikipedia.org
October 26, 2019
“Their Own Righteousness”
“Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness.”
Most of us have probably found ourselves the Pharisee in this parable.
He lists the good things that he has done. And they are good.
But we must know that when we rely solely on our own “righteousness,” sooner or later, we will fall. Righteousness is God’s gracious gift. It’s free, not earned. God alone is righteous. Our righteousness comes from God.
Therefore, it is a mistake thinking that we can be righteous by our good deeds or achievements. Our “own righteousness” could make us so proud that we think we have no need for God. It could also throw us into despair when we realize that our achievements just won’t cut it.
October 19, 2019
October 12, 2019
Sometimes we do things out of a sense of obligation, or when asked, requested, or commanded. That’s the case of the 9 lepers. And they receive what they ask - healing.
Other times, we act out of love or a sense of gratitude. That’s the case of the Samaritan.
Maybe I should ask myself what motivates me in my religious practices, and ultimately my relationship with God.
October 5, 2019
Our Vocation, Our Mission, Our Privilege
In this Gospel passage, Jesus speaks of commands. The question is then, “What has Jesus commanded us?”
At the end of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus commands the disciples to be witnesses of his life, crucifixion, and resurrection.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus commands his followers “to love one another as I have loved you.”
We should treat these commands as privileges. Jesus does not treat us as servants. We, sinners, have been given the privilege of being witnesses and bearers of God’s love and salvation.
September 28, 2019
The rich man does not send his servants to chase Lazarus away from his door. He does not harass or beat up Lazarus. He even knows Lazarus’ name.
But he seems so into his fancy clothes and his exotic banquets that he becomes indifferent to Lazarus and his sufferings.
What keeps me from seeing the people around me and what’s going on in their lives?
Image source: Fyodor Bronnikov,
"Lazarus at the rich man's gate," 1886
"Lazarus at the rich man's gate," 1886
September 21, 2019
We are alive! God has given us the gift of life.
It’s more than biological life. Through Jesus, God’s only Son, God has given us a share in God’s divine life.
That is true wealth.
Thus, Pope Francis taught, “We have a life to communicate: God, his divine life, his merciful love, his holiness!”
We soon begin October, the Extraordinary Missionary Month. May each of us feel the privilege of being a missionary of God’s divine life.
September 13, 2019
Drawing Near to Listen to Jesus
“Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus.”
They had discovered something in him – God’s mercy.
Often, we can be too proud and think we do not need God’s mercy. Or we can fall to the temptation thinking that our sins are so bad that God won’t forgive us.
In what way do I need to imitate those people and grow in my trust in God’s mercy?
September 7, 2019
Can I Be Jesus’ Disciple?
“Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,” who is on his way to Jerusalem, to the cross.
To these people, Jesus “turned” and told them the cost of following him. It is about putting God first.
Jesus asked them if they were willing to give up even life to follow him.
We know that almost none of those people would follow Jesus all the way to the cross.
How about me? Who or what is most important in my life? Is it God?
August 31, 2019
“My Friend, Move Up”
I am at a banquet, sitting where I belong, in the lowest place. Jesus himself comes and sits next to me. Next thing I know; he invites me to move up.
In the mystery of the Incarnation, out of love for us sinners, the Son of God came to live among us, and be one with us (Philippians 2: 5-8). Through his death on the cross, he takes away our sins and brings us to the higher seats – those of the children of God.
And it is not just a seat at a table in the afterlife. Even now, at the Eucharistic Table, we are already sitting at God’s table!
August 24, 2019
The Narrow Gate
Jesus continues “making his way to Jerusalem” – to the cross.
Christian discipleship, which is our following of Jesus, always involves the cross. That is “the narrow gate.”
Christian discipleship is not about connections or even membership. It is not enough to claim “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.”
Jesus surely teaches. But do I listen?
Christian discipleship involves listening to Jesus and living his way. Yet so often, Jesus’ way contradicts our political, cultural, economic, and societal values. There, the narrow gate!
August 17, 2019
“Keep Our Eyes Fixed on Jesus”
Jesus said to his disciples then, and to us today, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.”
Jesus said these words as he continues his journey toward Jerusalem, where he will complete his mission through his death and resurrection, which he here refers to as the “baptism.”
We all know difficulties and trials in our personal lives and in the life of the Church.
May we not lose sight of the mission that Jesus has shared with us – “to set the earth on fire.”
The Letter to the Hebrews (2nd reading) reminds us of how Jesus did it – by enduring the cross. So we need to “persevere in running the race … while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”
The saints who form “so great a cloud of witnesses” have done this. They now support us with their examples and prayers for us, and continue to cheer us on.
August 10, 2019
The Father’s Gift
Two Sundays ago, Jesus taught us to pray for to the Father that “Your kingdom come” and “give us each day our daily bread.”
Last week, Jesus told us the parable of a person who is self-centered, ungrateful to God, and has no concerns for others. He only cares about his earthly possessions and the pleasure of this passing life.
Today, Jesus tells us that the Father “is pleased to give you the kingdom.”
We need to live this earthly life knowing that we are already living in God’s kingdom, even though its fullness has not yet been a reality.
August 3, 2019
Prior to today’s Gospel, Jesus was preaching to the crowd. Among the things Jesus said to them were these two verses, “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12: 6-7)
And here, in the same crowd, a person asks Jesus to be a judge of a family matter over their inheritance.
That context gives us some possible insights to the parable.
It is the land that “produced a bountiful harvest.” In other words, the rich man could hardly take credit for his wealth  .
He does not acknowledge God who has given him the harvest. Nor does he pay attention to the poor people around him, and there were many poor people in Palestine at the time of Jesus.
The rich man’s self-centeredness costs him his sensibility, the purpose of his life, and in fact, life itself.
He has become a fool.
July 27, 2019
“Teach Us to Pray”
Having watched Jesus praying, “one of his disciples” asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus’ relationship with his Father must be so evident and inspiring.
Maybe today, I can thank God for the people who have taught me to pray. What do I learn from their relationship with God?
And how is my relationship with God? Is it in anyway evident?
July 20, 2019
At His Feet, Listening
We continue listening to Luke, Chapter 10. Two weeks ago, as Jesus sent to 72 disciples out, he affirmed the value of hospitality. He distinguished two attitudes, “Whatever town you enter and they welcome you” and “Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you” and the consequences.
Then last week, also in Chapter 10, Luke gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan, one who goes out of his way to serve the needs of another person.
That Jesus spoke of the importance of hospitality and generous service helps us to better understand what he says to Martha in today’s Gospel.
Martha does what she thinks is best to welcome Jesus.
But that does not seem to be what Jesus is looking for.
In serving others, sometimes with good intentions, we might give others what we think they need, not what they actually need.
And when we serve Jesus, there are moments when Jesus wants us to be with him, at his feet, listening to him, not busy running around doing things.
July 13, 2019
The Compassion and Mercy of the Kingdom of God
Jesus continues to travel toward Jerusalem to fulfill his mission. Last week, we learned that he sent out his disciples to proclaim “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Their message includes the gift of peace.
Today, Jesus continues the proclamation of the Kingdom of God in calling us to live with compassion and mercy.
In between the two passages, Jesus declares that his Gospel is a gift from the Father, “Lord of heaven and earth,” to “the childlike.” Moreover, it is “hidden from the wise and the learned” (10:21).
The Jewish audience of the parable of the Good Samaritan is in for a big surprise. Jesus challenges them, Jewish people, to imitate a Samaritan. This outsider “was moved with compassion” for the victim of the robbers. He goes out of his way to care for the victim. He spends money, the amount equaled to two days’ worth of labor, and even goes into debt for whatever it might cost him, to make sure the victim is cared for while he is absent.
The Samaritan indeed has “treated him with mercy.”